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Australian Cattle Council : Yearbook 2009
CA TTLE COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA YEARBOOK 2009 Western Australia Farmers’ Federation The past year has been very challenging for the red meat industry, from both a seasonal and economic perspective in Western Australia. A wide range of weather conditions in the northern pastoral districts to unseasonal rains in the southern districts has left pastures and stubbles very depleted and of very low quality. This has made livestock production very difficult in some areas. With more feed grain available at lower prices, the feedlotting industry were more active in the market despite having to contend with lower than average slaughter prices and lack of supply contracts. Whilst the cow and calf producer’s returns were slightly higher than 2008 they are still struggling with increased fuel and fertilizer prices while competition for land from tree-farming and increased cropping activity has resulted in producers leaving the industry. The live cattle export industry has been one of the few highlights in Western Australia with increased levels of cattle being exported, particularly to Indonesia and the Middle East. After an 18 month period of trying to secure funding WA Farmers together with the PGA and the support of the Western Australian Meat Industry Authority, the WA Beef Stocktake Program finally secured funding from the MLA and the Cattle Industry Compensation Fund. The Project Management Committee was established and included representatives from a cross section of the states beef industry which included Mr Mike Norton, President of WA Farmers. The Project Consultants, Warwick Yates and Associates, commenced work in January, 2009. Borne out of great concern of falling livestock prices and disparity with the eastern states prices the Stocktake Projects will assess the current supply chain(s) for beef in the state and objectively analyse all elements of the industry, and then highlight areas of concern and develop options and preferred strategies for the industry to achieve profitability for the long term future. The project is due to report mid year. Within days of the stocktake commencing, Harvey Beef, the major export beef plant in WA, shut down for a 9 day period caused by falling commodity prices. This created uncertainty and major apprehension for beef producers. More significant are the ongoing issues with Harvey Beef which remain unresolved leaving uncertainty and may lead to reduced returns to producers. The company has made redundant 160 of their 500-strong workforce, and reducing operations from 700 head per day to 450-500 on a single shift, and leased one of it's boning facilities. The meatworks has reduced their activity as part of a comprehensive internal review to ensure the sustainability of its operations, given Harvey Beef’s admission that their wage costs per kilogram of beef produced are currently higher than the costs of most other Australian abattoirs. The industry was relieved to have confirmation that work will commence on the James Point development south of Fremantle, which will increase efficiency of the live export animal transport sector, and assist in increasing animal welfare standards. 70 The long-awaited Muchea Sale complex is currently being constructed and is expected to be operation by 2010. Funded by the sale of the Midland Sale yard complex, after many years of lobbying from WAFarmers and PGA, the development will provide a state-of-the-art facility that will solve many animal welfare and occupational safety issues, and provide worlds-best-practice for our growing livestock industries. 1117_CCA Yearbook 2009.indd 70 5/5/09 8:01:31 PM